Friday, 31 January 2014

Nanning Predictions

By anon request, though these are a lot of fun to think about. You can read my hilariously wrong Antwerp predictions here, mostly written in November 2012. This gives us a view already of how ridiculous (nonetheless entertaining) it is to predict anything in gymnastics, much less 9 months or more out. But check it out: I said Viktoria Komova would not do the AA (and got criticised for that) and she didn't. Bow down before my omniscience.


TEAMS

(prelims events in brackets)

USA

Simone Biles VT, FX, UB, BB
Kyla Ross UB, BB, (VT), (FX)
Elizabeth Price UB, VT, FX, (BB)
Madison Kocian (UB), BB
McKayla Maroney VT, (FX)
Lexie Priessman (UB), (BB), (VT), FX

Alt: Brenna Dowell, Sarah Finnegan, Peyton Ernst (Nica Hults replaced)

This team is so strong on vault and floor that it's a bit of a joke. Some issues here with beam as you can see. Sticking Madison Kocian up in TF on the nerviest event is not exactly ideal, but I believe she's consistent when healthy. 4 vying for the AA would be a lot of fun. Maroney is my backup floor worker for TF. They can absorb not-so-strong bars/beam and possibly more than one fall and still win...interesting. I wanted to stick Finnegan on the team but this is predictions not 'want' and I can't really see her on it..yet. Likewise no returning Olympians who haven't competed since, we have seen even less of what stage they're at.

ROMANIA

Larisa Iordache VT, FX, UB, BB
Diana Bulimar VT, FX, UB, BB
Andreea Munteanu VT, FX, UB, BB
Silvia Zarzu (VT), (FX)
Paula Tudorache (BB), (UB)
Stefania Alina Stanila (VT), (UB), (FX), (BB)

Alt: Ana Maria Ocolisan, Diana Teodoru, Ioana Nicoara

I'm thinking Larisa Iordache and Diana Bulimar will gain a spectacular new team-carrier in Andreea Munteanu. Yes, Sandra Izbasa is not appearing as I just don't see it? It's fairly weird to have three bench-warmers during team finals, but really they aren't good enough or specialist enough to knock the other three off an event, and they all need experience.

RUSSIA

Aliya Mustafina VT, FX, UB, BB
Viktoria Komova VT, FX, UB, BB
Ksenia Afanasyeva (VT), FX, (UB)
Maria Kharenkova (FX), BB
Maria Paseka VT, (UB)
Anastasia Grishina UB, (BB), (FX), (VT)

Alt: Alla Sosnitskaya, Evgeniya Zhukova, Ekaterina Kramarenko (Alla replaces Viktoria Kuzmina)

Viktoria Komova can't be so unlucky as to miss another year, right? I do not think she will be at her 2012 or pre-2012 level again, but still obviously an extremely valuable asset and threat in the AA. This would be a strong team but Russia seem to be going down the tubes as a programme so it's very hard to predict this lot.

CHINA

Yao Jinnan VT, FX, UB, BB
Shang Chunsong VT, FX, UB, BB
Huang Huidan UB, (BB)
Wang Wei VT, FX
Tan Sixin BB, (FX), (UB), (VT)
Chen Siyi (FX), (VT), (BB), (UB)

Alt: Tan Jiaxin, Xie Yufen, Zeng Siqi

This is not a team destined for home glory. Next year and the year after will hopefully be a different story, but Nanning...um. Bars is fine of course but there's no backups, beam is quite fluid. It's hard to assess Chen Siyi and Huang Huidan could knock Shang Chunsong out of the beam lineup. This team is snookered with vault I think. I have actually left a DTY off the team...Tan Jiaxin. But, it's really bad and her bars or other events do not warrant inclusion. This will be an off year as a team at least, hopefully not individually too.

BRITAIN

Ruby Harrold VT, (FX), UB, (BB)
Gabby Jupp (VT), FX, UB, BB
Hannah Whelan VT, FX, BB, (UB)
Rebecca Tunney VT, FX, UB, BB
Raer Theaker (VT), (FX)
Becky Downie UB, (BB)

They are not getting any new seniors of note, and Gabby Jupp recovering to her early 2013 self is essential here..though not strictly devastating to the team if she drops VT, FX. Quite a glut of usable all-arounders, should be interesting.

JAPAN

Asuka Teramoto VT, FX, UB, BB
Mai Murakami VT, FX, (UB)
Yuki Uchiyama FX, UB, (BB), (VT)
Natsumi Sasada BB, (FX), (VT), (UB)
Koko Tsurumi (FX), UB, (BB), VT
Yu Minobe BB

Alt: Wakana Inoue, Risa Konishi

Some glorious routines amongst this lot, but this isn't a team with much depth. Interesting to see how it will play out. They will be as always the definition of artistic gymnastics however.

CANADA

Victoria Moors VT, FX, UB, BB
Ellie Black VT, FX, UB, BB
Heaven Latimer BB, FX, (VT)
Meagan Chant VT, (FX), (BB), (UB)
Sabrina Gill UB
Aleeza Yu (BB), (FX), (VT)

Moors and Black doing a lot of the work in TF but some really nice backups here and I hope a good test for newcomers Yu and Latimer.

I cannot do Italy because of the unknown status of Enus Mariani..it makes it too difficult, and I don't know enough about Germany and other possible teams.

EVENT FINAL QUALIFIERS (in random order)

VAULT

Simone Biles
McKayla Maroney
Giulia Steingruber
Ksenia Afanasyeva
Hong un Jong
Ellie Black
Phan Thi Ha Thanh
Yamilet Pena

I am too unsure about the level of Mariana Oliveira's and Wang Wei's vaults for them to usurp anybody here. Nothing has changed for Yamilet Pena to not make this final, and Maria Paseka is a question mark as far as consistency is concerned.

FLOOR

Simone Biles
Lexie Priessman
Victoria Moors
Ksenia Afanasyeva
Larisa Iordache
Diana Bulimar
Mai Murakami
Ellie Black

HUGE depth here.

BEAM

Kyla Ross
Simone Biles
Aliya Mustafina
Viktoria Komova
Yao Jinnan
Tan Sixin
Larisa Iordache
Andreea Munteanu

How very big 4..

BARS

Kyla Ross
Elizabeth Price
Yao Jinnan
Huang Huidan
Viktoria Komova
Aliya Mustafina
Ruby Harrold
Roxana Popa

Niiice.

PODIUMS 

TF

1. USA
2. ROMANIA
3. RUSSIA

China in 4th makes me so sad but I just don't see them any higher. Russia are a strong team here in this, but since their programme is a mess and they have injured/recovering gymnasts a-plenty, I think consistency will be the issue.

AA

1. Simone Biles
2. Viktoria Komova
3. Larisa Iordache

Where is the second American?? Second and third also switched a bunch of times when typing (and thinking). Hmmmmm.

VAULT

1. Simone Biles
2. McKayla Maroney
3. Giulia Steingruber

Yes, I WENT THERE. Biles was so close last year and now has 0.8 extra..Maroney has deteriorated form-wise and seems as injury prone as ever also.

FLOOR

1. Simone Biles
2. Ksenia Afanasyeva
3. Larisa Iordache

Really, really difficult to choose silver and bronze. I am also a monster for leaving Murakami out..

BEAM

1. Larisa Iordache
2. Andreea Munteanu
3. Tan Sixin

Stiff competition here too.

BARS

1. Yao Jinnan
2. Huang Huidan
3. Aliya Mustafina

Where's Komova? I think her growth is going to mess with those bars. Another tough decision.

I did go over teams making sure 5 were on each event, so hopefully I haven't overlooked any errors. Some of the above, particularly qualifiers and team members are (almost..so close) to being a certainty but many of the podiums while very likely, are still very fluid and could go either way...without even factoring the inevitable injury list in.

So, how much crack am I on?











 



Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Simone Smashes January Gym Monotony

What a great way to boost excitement for the elite season.



She really is the most jawdropping gymnast. I got so excited when this was released that I lost the head and couldn't really figure out what was new...which is admittedly tough on a 3.5" phone screen anyway.

The Cheng was expected. Not 100% but close. The height is not amazing but the form and technique is. This boosts her second VT D-score by 0.8. It IS more difficult than her amanar but there's no point in that....the amanar is much more familiar for her and will score higher anyway.

Annnnd the shap half makes its appearance! This gives her an automatic 0.2 so 6.3 and although this doesn't show any other upgrades on bars, her dismount is crying out for one and a Ray was slated to replace it before. A Fabrichnova would be ideal either with the height of her and the height she gets on it. Anyway, really it's a pity that shap halves are so necessary to boost d-scores now..hecht transitions can be awesome and Simone's Ray was a good example with great amplitude. The fun part is, this is not your regular toe-on shap half i.e. Van Leeuwen. This is the Khorkina! Especially formulated for a gymnast close to one foot taller than her. Very impressive, and she gets great height on it - I love how she seems to pause in the air. Not the cleanest, hopefully she can tighten it up a bit.

I am loving the resurgence of BHS-LOSO-LOSO, the mainstay of 90's beam. She keeps nice form on it, and while it's hard to judge the amplitude on the series it doesn't look too flat. Probably a very wise move with the crackdown on layouts on beam. The aerial cartwheel - straddle jump looks great, kind of original. Straddles always suit powerhouses very well and are really underused. Simone's beam has been fairly empty (minus the dismount) since the layout was dumped early on so it's great to see it fill out, especially in an unexpectedly great way.

Now floor is where my eyes were deceiving me most. I thought the last pass was a Moors at first. That it ain't, but what is it? The jury is out on a very laid-out piked full-in or a full twisting double layout that's quite piked in the second salto. What do you think? The piked full-in makes sense as I couldn't figure out why she with her power would pike down like that on a straight salto..but then it doesn't because isn't it worth the same as the tucked version, so why bother? HMMMMMM. I was kind of hoping she would keep the front layout in the twisting pass as the height on it was so fun to watch (nobody else rises on that skill!), but the 2.5-front full-straddle (YES, straddle again!) is so well done that I have no quarrel with it at all.

Curious about the composition too. Silivas, (mystery pass), Biles, 2.5-front full-straddle?

Is there anything she can't do?? She's quite possibly the most powerful gymnast ever, yet has the power to surprise on her 'weak' events too.

What is your favourite upgrade of hers? Do you think she has more up her sleeve? (*cough* Bhardwaj footage late last year, and any number of floor passes..) Does a healthy or otherwise Viktoria Komova stand a chance? Are you a code genius? I know her bars are at 6.3 but that is it..


Saturday, 11 January 2014

Quick round-up

Happy (late) New Year!

It appears that Aliya Mustafina might take a few months break from gymnastics. NOT confirmed, but a bit more than a baseless rumour at this stage. Very interesting if she does...it could re-energise a fairly lacklustre programme and boot them back into shape. Of course, time to rest and heal could be very beneficial to her. I'd wonder how hard it would be to get back into competitive shape though. I'd like to see her take Euros off at least and focus on worlds. Russia really rely on her quite a lot and being forced not to can only be a good thing in the end, I think.


Mattie Larson has retired. She was injured last season. It's always sad to see a gymnast retire prematurely, especially one who has contributed such beautiful work and never really fulfilled her full potential. But once she's happy, that's the main thing. Mattie will unfortunately always have that disastrous 2010 floor as her legacy, but here's some wonderful routines that come to mind when I think of her.


2008 WOGA Classic Beam

Wonderful lines, great dancer, superb form in her tumbling- especially the textbook triple twist. What a talent.


Speaking of WOGA Classic, the international elite roster has been partially released, here. Joining Yuan Xiaoyang will be Xie Yufen and Lv Jiaqi. Xie Yufen is a largely untested, fairly consistent new senior. The other two are 2015 and 2016 seniors respectively. I have videos of the two juniors in a previous post, and all 3 exist on youtube. I don't know about other names to be announced though...GB should be interesting, maybe Catherine Lyons can join Amy? Notice no Katelyn Ohashi listed although I'd be really surprised if she was.


The roster for the American Cup has been announced. Brilliant lineup, all of the girls placed in the top 12 at Antwerp. Personally I'd like to see Andreea Munteanu tested..Larisa Iordache has competed so much. Substitutions are more than likely however. Really looking forward to seeing what Simone Biles has up her sleeve, should be a good competition. The inclusion of Carlotta Ferlito gives me some cause for alarm, I really hope there is no ugly scenes or nastiness, or NBC manufactured drama...there's been enough fuss.


Routine of the week, watch the first transition closely:



Sarah Finnegan returns from the depths of mystery injured gymnasts! Watch all of her routines here. Brenna Dowell's and Maddie Desch' are also there. Some great work from this trio, and interesting stuff...Sarah for instance is chanelling Ruby Harrold and Brenna is echoing Beth Tweddle. GB are nothing if not innovative and creative. Great to see Sarah looking fit and I have hopes Brenna can clean her shiny new Ezhova, since she cleaned up on bars bigtime last year.

Danusia Francis further cements her legendary status at UCLA. Amazing. I LOVE sideways work so much...


Bridget Sloan is awesome.